One of the best scenes in the 1995 Kevin Smith-directed classic Mallrats revolves around a painting of dots that reveal a three-dimensional sailboat if you stare at it long enough. The gag is that one character, Willam, who longingly looks at the painting can’t see anything, while everyone around him can, but in the end it’s just a sailboat, so, uh, it’s maybe not worth looking too hard at. In this scenario, Future and Juice WRLD’s “Fine China” is that painting from Mallrats, and their lyrics are the three-dimensional sailboat: Once you pay enough attention to the song to notice what the two rappers are actually saying, you immediately wish you hadn’t.
From a chemistry perspective, Future and Juice WRLD sound promising on “Fine China.” The Wheezy-produced is an upbeat sugar rush that pairs well with Juice and Future’s heavily processed vocals.
The trouble arises when trying to make sense of the lyrical choices. Though his career is still in its earliest stages, Juice WRLD has never been a nuanced lyricist. The Chicago rapper’s strained but affecting voice, mixed with his pop-punk sensibilities, always carried his music where his rhymes couldn’t. However, building an entire hook around the line “Shawty like a thousand dollar plate of fine china” is a baffling metaphor. That misstep transitions from the weird to the offensive quickly (“her last man was a pussy, had a vagina”), to the outright troubling (“It’s her body or nobody, I refuse to compromise / So if she leaves, I’ma kill her, oh”).
Future shows up for a hot second to add his signature gruff voice to the proceedings. Throughout four bars, he raps “I’m goin’ to Pluto with my girl,” and just swaps out the planet each time with other planets — Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. It’s unintentionally hilarious in the way many rushed collabs tend to be.
“Fine China” is a fine collaboration that could’ve been a good one. The only thing holding it back is an editor — the engineer, managers, producers, anybody — to force two of the most instinctually talented rappers working to think about cutting the insulting fat.